Paper pub. date
January 2006
ISBN 9780870710940 (paperback)
6 x 9 inches, 248 pages. Index.

The Hidden Forest

The Biography of an Ecosystem

Jon R. Luoma
Foreword by Jerry Franklin

The tallest species of spruce, hemlock, fir, cedar, and pine trees on earth coexist in the old growth of the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon’s Cascade Range. Set aside as a living laboratory by the U.S. Forest Service in 1948, the 16,000 acres represent a vital scientific endeavor: the long-term study of a single contained ecosystem. Here, for the first time, researchers from an enormous range of disciplines—forest scientists, botanists, entomologists, wildlife ecologists, soil biologists, and others—have assembled to examine the role of every working element in the life of a forest.

In The Hidden Forest, veteran science writer Jon Luoma offers an absorbing account of how these scientists came to recognize the importance of natural forest ecosystems and how their research is revolutionizing forest management.

Luoma takes readers into the hidden forest where researchers have discovered a host of species previously unknown to science, and interactions in the forest ecosystem that no one previously imagined. He describes projects dealing with the forest canopy, rotting logs, insects, fungi, wildlife, streams, and the effects of flood, fire, clear cutting, and volcanic eruption. And he tells the human story behind the research, capturing the shared excitement and wonder of scientific discovery. Along the way, Luoma provides a short course in such complex issues as forest succession, biodiversity, and the politics of forestry.

In a new foreword, Jerry Franklin discusses the importance of dedicated, long-term research sites and comments on new discoveries that have emerged from forest ecosystem research since The Hidden Forest was first published.

About the author

Jon R. Luoma is a contributing editor to Audubon magazine, a contributor to the Science Times section of the New York Times, and the author of two previous books, A Crowded Ark and Troubled Skies, Troubled Waters. He lives in southern New Jersey.

Read more about this author

“This may be the single best general-reader introduction to the startling discoveries and developments of recent decades that have come to be called the New Forestry. Luoma is great on the rich, dense, slow, huge, networked processes that make up a robust, fully-functioning, old forest. In particular, he shows how essential death and decay is for continued forest health and how much bearing that has on forest management. Read this to learn how truly social trees are and how complex a forest “superorganism” can be.” —Richard Powers, author of The Overstory

“An inspiring, informative account of the complexity of an undisturbed forest.” —Audubon magazine

“Like John McPhee, Luoma writes a clear reportorial prose, affable and supple enough to accommodate his range of facts, quotes, and ideas. And, like McPhee, he explains natural science’s recent discoveries by telling the stories of the discoverers. The result is an engaging yet serious outline of what we know about forests. And what experts are still finding out.” —Publishers Weekly

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